IR Distribution

The Modern way to control IR devices

The invention of wifi networks and mobile touch screen devices such as the Itouch or Iphone has seriously started to challenge the traditional IR dominated method of control.  Technically you can forget about the IR network and use an IP network to relay IR commands to 'simple' devices such as your Sky box or Blue Ray player.  Now it's common place to have an IP network in your house, so why bother with an IR network?  The answer is simple.  In most cases you need to send a TV ariel signal to each zone so you need to intall the coax anyway.  You do have the additional costs of all the IR gear, but as long as you have power, it works.  It also means you can use your normal IR remote controls in every room.  This means anyone can use your TV without using or destroying your touch screen device.  And when your network has problems, mobile battery runs out or server goes down you can still watch TV!

Remote IP IR Control 

There are various methods to control IR devices through an IP network.  You can plug PCI cards into the back of your PC to emit IR, but the industry standard seems to be Global Cache.  Global Cache make a variety of good quality products which are small network devices that have outputs for IR emitters.   They also have options for contact closures and serial port control.  You can learn your IR codes using the Global Cache IR learning device.

To control your Global Cache network device you are going to need some kind of software.  Most Home Automation software supports Global Cache.  I use Global Cache with Homeseer and MainLobby running on my server via HSTouch on my Iphone/ITouch, but now there are specific apps you can download to control Global Cache without the need of a server running 24/7.  Software is available to design your GUI. Global Cache has an open API, so anything on a network than can send an http command can and will control it.

Below are a couple of screen shots from my HSTouch App.  The one on the left is the screen which controls my Sky+ box.  On pressing a button HSTouch sends a command to Homeseer which then executes an event telling the Global Cache device to emit IR.  Having more than one Sky box will cause IR conflicts.  Read here for more.

HSTouch sonos style skyremote HSTouch_sonos_style_xbmc_remote

On the right hand side is my XBMC controller page.  XBMC is an opensource media centre which I use to view all the media on my server via any TV in my house.  XBMC is not controlled via IR so instead, Homeseer excutes a custom VB script which then sends http commands to XBMC.

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